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Franchitti: The race I've been waiting for

Posted by Matt Pepin, BostonGlobe.com Staff  August 9, 2011 09:46 AM

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100franchitti.jpg Editor's note: Through a special arrangement with New Hampshire Motor Speedway
and Chip Ganassi Racing, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will blog exclusively on Boston.com throughout the IndyCar season, with extra entries around the series' event at New Hampshire Aug. 14.
Iíve been writing this blog all season with an eye on one race, and now itís finally here. Iím excited to compete this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and Iím happy to be taking you along with me.

But before we talk about this weekend, letís talk about Sundayís race at Mid-Ohio. My teammate, Scott Dixon, ran away with the victory while I finished second, so it was a solid 1-2 finish for Team Target.

From the test session before the race at Mid-Ohio until the final lap of the race, Scott was really good. Heís been fast all season, but heís encountered some bad luck. On Sunday, he lifted his performance to another level. He didnít make any mistakes and for once he didn't have any bad luck. He deserved to win, and I was very happy for him.

For me, second was the best result I could have hoped for. The No. 10 car wasnít bad, but I never could get the balance where I wanted it. To finish second was absolutely as good as it could have been, so in that sense Iím very pleased with how it turned out and very proud of the entire Target team.

As I've said before, this is very much a team sport and from the guys who build the cars and do pit stops to the engineers who come up with setups and work with the great strategists to figure out how and when to pit. They all did another amazing job at the weekend.

It also was a positive result in terms of points, as we still lead the IZOD IndyCar Series championship, increasing the lead to 62 points with six races remaining. And Scottís win further solidified his third-place position in the championship standings.

But it was a crazy race. Looking at it from the outside, it was fairly tame. But from inside the cockpit, it was wild. It was hot and humid, so the track was slippery. There were plenty of times when I was struggling to hang on. On the last lap, I got completely sideways. It was a tough race from a driver's perspective.

But now weíre on to Loudon, which means weíre back to a short oval after three road and street-course races. I havenít raced NHMS before in an IndyCar, but I did race NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup cars there in 2008. You might think that gives me an advantage, but it doesnít. Thereís really no comparing Indy cars and stock cars, so Iíll be coming into this race with the same unknowns everyone else will have.

If youíre looking for a good comparison to what you might see this weekend at NHMS, there's a good video posted on YouTube (also embedded at right). Itís from the 1993 New England 200, so you'll have an idea of how exciting this form of racing can be at this track.

One of the best things Loudon offers fans is the ability to see 95 percent of the track from any seat. No matter where you sit, youíll see the action. And itís not just the IndyCar Series on track during the weekend. Youíll see modifieds and American Canadian Tour stock cars, along with our top support series, Firestone Indy Lights. Itís a weekend-long show, starting Friday with practice, continuing Saturday with qualifying and support races, and concluding Sunday with the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225.

The first thing weíll do when we get out there Thursday is do our best to learn the track. From there, weíll start trying to improve the cars and get into the detail work of trying to make them faster. Scott has tested at the track, so Team Target should have a good starting base.

Itís going to be a typical short track, which means lots of compromises for drivers. Weíll have to hang on to it in places. Thereís no banking, so it will be about throttle control and handling. Itís going to be a tough old place to race, and I anticipate a sensational show for fans.

This is a sport of details. The smallest things make the difference between success and failure. The fastest cars in this race will come from teams that have done the best with those details. But for the drivers, itís going to be all about getting back on a short track and getting the bit between our teeth and going fast.

Iím looking forward to this race. Itís going to be a major challenge for all of us and great fun for the fans. I hope youíre able to join us!

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